[Testimony] Grassroots Church Elder: From a ‘Bag of Bones’ to Heroic ‘Deborah’

 Elder Chen Lingdi, the head of Xinqiao Church in Danyang, Jiangsu Province
Elder Chen Lingdi, the head of Xinqiao Church in Danyang, Jiangsu Province (photo: Nanjing Mochou Road Church)
By Grace ZhiDecember 9th, 2021

Danyang in Jiangsu Province is an ancient and historical city rich in culture. In the city, a new church called Xinqiao Town Christian Church has been constructed, which can accommodate nearly 2,000 people. Its head, Elder Chen Lingdi, testifies about her journey to faith.

Forty years ago, she was haunted by a strange disease but became healthy ever since she believed in God.

Elder Chen, the head of Xinqiao Church, is 75 years old but just looks like a forty or fifty-year-old. She became a Christian whilst being haunted by an obscure disease. Forty years ago, Elder Chen became pregnant at only 24, but her husband, a school principal, worked away from home. She was afraid of being at home alone. Later, Chen's state developed to a point where she felt scared of seeing or hearing anything. Since then, it had been restless day or night for her, and she couldn’t sleep well. Her doctor said it was neurosis but taking many pills had no effect. After the birth of the child, her illness became even worse. She couldn’t sleep at all. Due to a sore throat, she couldn’t eat. She had been suffering from the illness for 13 years. She was so skinny that she literally became a “bag of bones”.

Apart from physical pains, there were emotional tortures too. Because of her illness, people wouldn’t associate with her, and she made no friends. In order not to be a burden to her husband, she asked for a divorce. Her husband refused it and that was very encouraging to her. After that, she continued to seek treatment. No matter whether it was witch-craft or worshipping Buddha statues, there was no success.

Later, a relative of hers named Gu advised her to believe in Jesus, and Chen, who was so haunted and tortured, immediately expressed her willingness to believe in him. Since then, she began to attend church services in Changzhou, Shanghai, and Hangzhou. Slowly she felt relaxed physically and mentally and became happy in her heart. She could also enjoy good meals once again and gradually her health began to recover.

Since her conversion to Christianity, Chen returned to her hometown, Xinqiao Town. There she was very sad to see no churches or worshippers. First, she went to the old Danyang Gospel Church for Sunday services. Then, she was moved to organize gatherings herself. The first gathering had only five people. They sang hymns, read scriptures, and prayed together. In the second gathering, there were as many as 53 people. With the increasing number of believers, they began to rent places to meet in. By 1992, they had finally raised funds to build the current church, which covered an area of about 3 mu (roughly half an acre) and accommodated more than 300 people. Later, she was assigned as an elder.

As the number of believers increased, different places were either building new churches or expanding existing houses. Danyang City was doing the same. Other towns such as Licheng, Lucheng, and Daoshu, started building new churches too. Similarly, Xinqiao Church could no longer meet the growing religious needs of believers. Many years ago, the church had begun to pray for the construction of a new church, asking the Lord to prepare the site. At that time, there was a piece of land of about eight mu (1.32 acres) next to the church. Elder Chen hoped that it could be allocated to the church so that the old church could be expanded for further use.

But there were many difficulties: First, would the landowners be willing to sell the land? Second, there were 60 tombs in the land. How were they going to handle them? Thirdly, there were rugged slopes, ponds, and reeds, which needed to be filled up. The first two issues seemed to be impossible to solve, but with faith, she began to lead her colleagues to pray in the reeds of that land.

They prayed for six years. In the seventh year, the first problem was solved. The next issue was that of the 60 graves. While praying, they communicated with the grave owners and promised to pay them for relocation. In just one or two weeks, the problem was settled. The church finally started construction in 2014.

The whole construction cost more than 16 million yuan, and with a total area of 5,400 square meters, the church can accommodate 2,000 seats. Next to it, a three-story annex room was built, including a training center, canteen, dining room, office, and dormitory, etc. A dedication ceremony was held at the end of 2015.

Her faith testimony and the story of building the church were originally published on the website of Nanjing Mochou Road Church by Li Lan Cheng, the senior pastor of. Pastor Li said that Elder Chen being used by the Lord just like a "Deborah" in the present era. He used a short poem to comment on her testimony:

“From a 'bag of bones',

To a modern 'Deborah',

Preaching and building from stones,

Honor be to God and blessing to men.”

- Translated by Charlie Li

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